This application is a continuation of and claims priority under 35 U.S.C. §120, to application Ser. No. 12/547,760, filed Aug. 26, 2009, entitled VARIABLE FORMATTING OF CELLS, which is a continuation of and claims priority to application Ser. No. 11/260,520, filed Oct. 27, 2005, entitled VARIABLE FORMATTING OF CELLS, now issued as U.S. Pat. No. 7,627,812, on Dec. 1, 2009, all which are hereby incorporated by reference in their entirety.
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Data visualization techniques enable users of data to scan and quickly comprehend large quantities of information. Such techniques may also aid in alerting users to anomalies and other data of interest. Visualization tools can include charts, graphs, and reports that collect, summarize, and/or otherwise transform data into meaningful shapes, colors, and patterns. Closer to the source, data visualization has also included the use of conditional formatting in spreadsheets, which frequently serve as receptacles of raw data.
Conditional formatting has enabled users to modify the look of data in place, changing the appearance of individual spreadsheet or table cells based on the content of the cell (or some other determining condition). FIG. 2 depicts a prior art range of cells 201 in a spreadsheet, the cells of which have been conditionally formatted. Here, cell A1 provides an example of the default or unformatted version of a cell. Cell A2 provides an example of a first conditionally formatted cell, and cell A4 provides an example of a second conditionally formatted cell. Cells A2 and A4 have automatically received new formatting based on a condition associated with the cells.
FIG. 3 depicts a prior art dialog 301 where formats conditioned upon values being within certain ranges have been selected. The two conditions supplied here (and applied to the range of cells 201) format cells in a particular fashion when the value contained within each is evaluated as being between a certain range (10 and 20 for condition 1, 15 and 30 for condition 2). The conditions utilized in conditional formats are limited to two possible Boolean outputs, TRUE or FALSE. If the condition supplied evaluates to TRUE, then the format is applied. If the condition supplied evaluates to FALSE, then the format is not applied.
Dialog 301 demonstrates that, while useful, conditional formatting can be limiting as to certain available formats (e.g., font, cell color, borders). Furthermore, a given range of cells is provided a maximum number of conditional formats that can be applied, certainly no more than three conditions, each providing no more than one possible format when evaluating to TRUE. These limitations prevent conditionally formatted cells from fully realizing their potential as analysis and reporting tools.
There is a need in the art for the ability to vary cell formats in tables and spreadsheets and to apply advanced formats. Such formatting should not be restricted to a limited set of formats based on Boolean conditions.
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One or more embodiments enable variable formatting, which provides methods for applying a varying format to a range of cells in a spreadsheet, table, or other electronic document. Formats are applied which vary based on the cell value (or an associated value). Examples include a variable format command being applied to a range of cells that varies the background color of the cell along a color scale varying with a value in the cell. Additional examples include varying the size (or other aspect) of a shape such as a data bar that is placed in the cell, and varying the selection of an in-cell icon based on a value associated with a cell.
Additional embodiments provide systems that may implement variable formatting, systems that include a display, processor, and memory storing instructions to execute on the processor.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
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The patent or application file contains at least one drawing executed in color. Copies of this patent or patent application publication with color drawing(s) will be provided by the Office upon request and payment of the necessary fee.
The foregoing brief summary of the invention, as well as the following detailed description, is better understood when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, which are included by way of example, and not by way of limitation with regard to the claimed invention. In the accompanying drawings, the same or similar elements are labeled with the same reference numbers.
FIG. 1 depicts an exemplary operating environment in which one or more embodiments may be implemented.
FIG. 2 depicts a prior art example of a range of conditionally formatted cells in a spreadsheet.
FIG. 3 depicts a prior art example of a dialog for conditionally formatting cells.
FIG. 4A depicts a range of cells formatted using color scale style variable formatting according to one or more embodiments.
FIG. 4B depicts an input dialog with which a user may specify the variable formatting parameters for FIG. 4A according to one or more embodiments.
FIG. 5A depicts a range of cells formatted using data bar style variable formatting according to one or more embodiments.
FIG. 5B depicts an input dialog with which a user may specify the variable formatting parameters for FIG. 5A according to one or more embodiments.
FIG. 6A depicts a range of cells formatted using icon style variable formatting according to one or more embodiments.
FIG. 6B depicts an input dialog with which a user may specify the variable formatting parameters for FIG. 6A according to one or more embodiments.
FIG. 7A depicts a range of cells formatted using another form of color scale style variable formatting according to one or more embodiments.
FIG. 7B depicts an input dialog with which a user may specify the variable formatting parameters for FIG. 7A according to one or more embodiments.
FIGS. 8 and 9 again present additional embodiments of variable formatting applied to cell ranges.
FIGS. 10-12 depict additional icon sets usable with icon style variable formatting according to one or more embodiments.
FIG. 13 is a flowchart depicting a method for applying a variable format to a range of cells according to one or more embodiments.
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Formats need not be evaluated using only TRUE or FALSE as determinative results. Instead, cell formats applied can vary depending upon an associated value (e.g., the value in the cell itself), providing more formats which may be more meaningful to a user. Formats may be applied to a range of cells, where a format value is determined for each cell in the range, and one or more aspects of the format vary based on the format value. For example, as the value in a cell increases, the background color or shade is adjusted, or the size of an in-cell data bar grows, or the selection of an in-cell icon changes.